OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – A school-record win total, their first ever No. 1 ranking and the deepest Women's College World Series run in school history will have to do.
This historic Oregon softball season that featured so many "firsts" for the program ended short of the one the Ducks most hoped to accomplish. Oregon (56-9-1) entered Sunday four wins away from the first national championship in the program's history, but was unable to extend this most memorable of seasons.
Alabama pitcher Jaclyn Traina allowed just four hits in a shutout performance, and the No. 1 Oregon softball team fell 2-0 to the No. 2 Crimson Tide on Sunday. The Ducks were eliminated from the Women’s College World Series in the process; with a win, Oregon would have needed to beat Alabama again later Sunday before advancing to the best-of-three championship series.
The Ducks went 2-2 at the 2014 WCWS, with wins over Florida State and defending champion Oklahoma. The Ducks lost to Florida and Alabama, the two teams that will play for the national title beginning Monday.
Oregon’s two WCWS victories doubled the number of wins the Ducks had in two previous trips, and the Ducks advanced to the WCWS semifinals for the first time in program history.
Karissa Hovinga, who made two relief appearances earlier in the weekend, got her first start in Oklahoma City against the Crimson Tide. After she gave up a one-out single in the fourth inning, the Ducks made the switch from Hovinga to all-American Cheridan Hawkins. She retired the first two batters she faced to keep it scoreless going into the fifth.
Alabama struck for the first run of the game in the fifth inning when leadoff hitter Haylie McCleney, who entered the day with a .441 batting average, slugged a solo homer to right. The Tide added another run in the fifth inning on an RBI single to center by catcher Molly Fichtner.
In her final game with the Ducks, senior Courtney Ceo went 2-for-2 and finished the year with 104 hits, tied for the 14th most in single-season NCAA history. That was the entirety of Oregon's offense until the seventh, when Kailee Cuico reached on a leadoff single.
Sophomore Janelle Lindvall followed with a long drive down the left-field line, a potential game-tying home run. Instead it was just foul, and Lindvall ultimately struck out. Koral Costa's two-out single brought the go-ahead run to the plate, but Traina slammed the door on the Ducks' season.